One of the coolest things I've been able to do is to work with young children's group at my church, Baymeadows Crossroads. Many of you remain in awe as to exactly 1) why I do this and 2) why they let me do this. I can assure you the irony of this has not escaped me and I remind them monthly exactly what they have gotten themselves into. Regardless of the fact that I am a self professed agnostic\deist my love for the kids seems to trump any philosophical differences. In turn I have no issues with teaching the kids the weekly lessons. The trick is finding the commonality between the differences.
Since I have been leading the big lesson there has been one constant: someone dies. John the Baptist, Paul, Goliath, etc...The kids have picked up on this and the great joke is who will die during my on stage theatrics. My main enjoyment is watching the kids bond with me (considering I am replacing an AWESOME leader in Josh). A secondary joy is exposing them to a fact that is life...we all die. Never an easy thing to do but within the context of a faith their parents want them to grow up in I hope that it becomes something tangible. My son was exposed to death around age 9 (if memory serves me) and he became much more aware of what he had to lose. He became more clingy (if you will) to my wife and I. It took hiim a while to get over the loss of the person that prompted this but I was so happy that he dealt with it then as opposed to later on in life.
Surely speaking of death and experiencing it are two different things, but to simply avoid the discussion for the sake of "sheltering Siddhartha" is more damaging. Part of being a kid is learing to deal with all that the world has to throw at you and we, as adults, serve as the guide, the anchor and the umbrella. Lessons are much easier to learn when you have love to support you.
This coming Sunday we'll be discussing John the Baptist, AGAIN, but within the context of Thanksgiving. I hate to fall back on the beheading. Maybe my cycle will be broken.
So what of this irony of leading? There is a great guy, Greg, who teaches the 1st and 2nd graders (I have 3rd-5th). His take on the Faith is quite intriguing. Absent of rigid dogma, Greg is one who seems to grasp the spirit of the message as opposed to getting bogged down in the language of the Bible. The food is more palatable at Greg's table and hence church is less of an anchor. In turn, the freedom of discourse and ideas is more welcomed at this church than any other I attended. Some need to be bound by the word in the Word: it helps define things. I never could tolerate that type of Faith regardless of what your Religion is. The problem of language was always a whip on my mind. That problem is for another blog, but let me simply note that words are symbols of ideas which are inherently private. There are many aspects of "traditional" christianity that I do not and will not accept and I will not and do not teach on them. However, beyond the politics that the modern church perpetuates is a message that I sincerely believe in. The metaphysics of the faith are left to others.